WACO, Texas (AP) — Richard Reese ran for two touchdowns, freshman Dawson Pendergrass added 111 yards and a score on his 21 carries and Baylor ended a six-game losing streak with a 30-7 win over FCS-member Long Island University on Saturday.
Baylor (1-2) also ended a four-game losing streak at home, in a game that included a two-hour delay because of lightning in the area that first started when the teams were leaving the field at halftime, though the sun was shining by the fourth quarter.
“I’m proud of the team,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. “You work hard and to get a win is something that was well-needed. I’m proud of their effort, pride and direction.”
The Bears, whose last win overall was 38-35 at Oklahoma on Nov. 5, 2022, had four scoring drives of at least 10 plays. The last was Sawyer Robertson's 3-yard TD pass to Drake Dabney with 5:41 left in the game, the tight end's third TD catch this season.
Robertson completed 10-of-22 passes for 113 yards. It was the Mississippi State transfer's second game filling in for injured starting quarterback Blake Shapen, who is expected to miss at least one more game because of an MCL injury.
The Bears finished with 251 yards rushing despite playing without leading rusher Dominic Richardson, who has a high ankle sprain. Aranda said he would likely miss at least another game. Reese ran for 82 yards on 12 carries.
“I’m proud of the running backs,” Aranda said. “I thought they ran hard, ran physical. I thought the times we were throwing it, they were on the guys they needed to block.”
After LIU (0-3) stopped Baylor on downs right before halftime, quarterback Chris Howell scored on 10-yard run to make it 16-7. The Sharks then recovered a fumble but gave the ball right back on an interception.
“I was excited about things at half, and then we had (the delay),” LIU coach Ron Cooper said. “They had the same break we had, but they have a few more guys that can go in and play, and they did a great job of preparation and getting their team ready to play.”
Long Island: The Sharks saw little of the ball in the first half when the result was still in doubt. Until their four-play, 59-yard touchdown drive late in the half, they had only one first down and 12 total yards on 12 plays. Long Island’s initial first down came on its opening drive, which lasted five plays and covered 19 yards, but it opted to punt on fourth-and-1 from the Baylor 48.
Baylor: It wasn’t the dominating effort the Bears likely envisioned when they scheduled this game, but they came out of it with a much-needed win. They did so primarily by going 6-for-14 on third down and 5-for-6 on fourth to keep drives alive and continue wearing on the Long Island defense. The Bears’ defense also did its part to get off the field, limiting Long Island to 1-for-9 on third down and 1-for-3 on fourth.
FRESHMAN MAKES BEST OF OPPORTUNITY
Pendergrass had only one carry for 2 yards for the Bears before Saturday. The true freshman made his presence felt against the Sharks, displaying a physical style that allowed him to continuously fall forward for extra yards after initial contact.
“The moment’s not too big for him,” Aranda said. “When all of it’s coming out of him, it’s a normal, everyday thing. So his ability to take these big situations and make them into an everyday task brings it down where he can just be him, play fast and play physical.”
LIU has a bye week before its home and Northeast Conference opener against Duquesne on Sept. 30.
Baylor plays its fourth consecutive home game next Saturday against fourth-ranked Texas. It's the last scheduled trip to Waco for the Longhorns, who move to the SEC next year.
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